Have We Forgotten Positive Curiosity?
The major reason for companies’ inefficiency stems from the simple fact that the employees and different parts of the organization don’t know what the others are doing. A company is a living organism, whose steering mechanism works in a similar way to us humans. The human is guided by the brain, and an incalculable number of reflex-like actions. In a company the steering is conducted by the management, but the management’s capability to affect day-to-day actions is limited. Very few successful companies operate on the instructions of one person or the management, but day-to-day actions are affected by all ordinary decisions made by the personnel. This decision-making should operate in a reflex-like manner, so that the customer will get quality products and services.
Modern companies utilize ultra-streamlined processes which are presented in an extremely time and money consuming manner. Balance scorecards and outcome estimates are brought to a personal level, but very seldom they are synchronized in a way that would steer the action in a certain direction, without fault. This results in a lot of great outcomes, but it still often leaves us wondering why things don’t seem to progress as common sense would suggest. We have forgotten the world’s oldest and most useful communication skills: looking, talking and touching. We have forgotten the Jay.
The Jay (perisoreus infaustus) is a small corvid bird, belonging in the crow family, whom we should all learn from. The Jay is curious by nature. It follows the hunters / hikers, comes to say hello and the moves on to keep company to the next hunter / hiker. It knows all who walk in the forest and has the skill to utilize every opportunity to aquire some extra delicacies. This is what we all should do in working life. The people who have a genuine interest in other people’s affairs, take every customer feedback to heart and want to know how the work that they do connects to the greater whole are simply able to do a better job than those who labor away in their cubicles. This is simply because they know why their work is so important. They are in a superior position in any organization, because they know how the whole works.
The “office Jay” can be found chatting at the coffee machine of having lunch in the cafeteria with the people from the neighboring department. The Jay fetches extra paper for the copier from a different floor on purpose and stops to chat at the doorstep of distant aquaintances. It would be easy to view “the Jay” as an inefficient exchanger of pie recipes or one who goes on and on about their kids’ football hobby. But this is not so. We should put them on a pedestal, make them employee of the month and give them a raise. Only through curiosity, talking and especially listening can we understand the whole. No schematic process can supply an answer to an ever increasing demand, but “the Jay” can. It befalls us all, and especially the management to further this kind of culture, atmosphere and actions.
All Hail the Jay – It Will Save Your Company!
The writer is Head of Strategy at Kissconsulting Ltd, and an advocate of curiosity.